Tuesday, May 24, 2005

The Compromise

Many of you have probably alread heard that the nuclear showdown has been averted by a last minute compromise worked out by, among others, Sen. Robert Byrd, and Sen. John McCain. The AP describes the compromise this way.
The agreement, crafted over the past several weeks by seven Republicans and seven Democrats, also opened the way for yes-or-no votes on two other of President Bush's judicial picks who have been in nomination limbo for more than two years - William H. Pryor Jr. for the Atlanta-based 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and Janice Rogers Brown for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

The agreement, which applies to Supreme Court nominees, said future judicial nominations should "only be filibustered under extraordinary circumstances," with each Democratic senator holding the discretion to decide when those conditions had been met.
Of course it goes without saying that one party's extraordinary circumstances are another parties obstructionism. Basically the fight over the filibuster has been pushed back to another day.

To me this is a victory. We didn't get a whole loaf but we got some important slices. In particular, President Bush and his advisors have to consider Democratic opposition when nominating a Supreme Court Justice. Had the Nuclear option been triggered, they could have nominated Ann Coulter, and, assuming a party line vote, gotten her through. Now that's not as possible (I'm assuming that at least 7 Republicans senators would see her as an "extraordinary circumstance."

It hurts Frist, who certainly would have scored big with the Dominionist base had he stood up for principle (even if he lost). Now he has to pretend to be pleased about a compromise he didn't craft, one that a potential rival for the nomination (McCain) helped craft.

And the Right Wing Base doesn't like this compromise at all. From the innocuously named but very right wing Focus on the Family comes this statement. "This Senate agreement represents a complete bailout and betrayal by a cabal of Republicans and a great victory for united Democrats. Only three of President Bush's nominees will be given the courtesy of an up-or-down vote, and it's business as usual for all the rest."

From Powerline, a right wing blog, comes this commentary. "What a hideous deal! The Democrats have agreed to cloture on only three nominees, and they have made no commitment not to filibuster in the future, if there are "extraordinary circumstances." Of course, the Dems think any nominee who is a Republican is "extraordinary." The Dems have just wriggled off the hook on some of the nominees that, politically, some of them did not want to be seen voting against."

On the other hand, Democrats are taking this as a win. Consider MoveOn.Org's reaction. "President Bush, Bill Frist and the radical right-wing of the Republican Party have failed in their attempt at seizing absolute power and the "nuclear option" is off the table. Our members fought hard to preserve the filibuster, which will now live to see another day."

So all is not well in Republicanville. But there's no shortage of umbrellas in Democrattown.

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